Friday, September 7, 2012

Anjali Goes to Kindergarten {pass the tissue box}

I've been photographing Anjali since she was a little toddler-and long before her baby brother came along. I have to say that's got to be the best part of lifestyle photography-being invited to all the magnificent milestones of a a family's life and watching their little ones grown and change and blossom. It's absolutely incredible.

Being a mama has changed every single aspect about my photography. I "get" it. And when Anjali's mom approached me about shooting her baby girl's first day of school naturally I was all about it. I anticipated getting choked up for a moment-but I didn't anticipate having to literally pull myself away from her at the end-when I say my clients become family-it's no joke. 

Take a little peek at some shot from Anjali's First Day of School...
Putting on her gloss- such a CUTIE!
Special St. Raymond embellished socks is just what her outfit needed :)
Anjali's favorite breakfast of nutella crepes was prepared by her loving mom to start her day off right! 
Anjali gets her first glimpse of her school- SO EXCITING!!!
Am I the only one who thinks kindergarten is like completely magical? Walking around and seeing your little name all over the place-I absolutely remember things like that from my childhood.
that moment when the excitement starts to turn into a bit of anxiety....

knowing that in a few minutes you're on your own.......oh my gosh her little face-SO SWEET.
Heidi and Krishna were TROOPERS-they kept it together for the most part :)

These two parents have an incredible bond with this little girl and I just think this little family is priceless. I cannot wait to see what happens next <3

Monday, September 3, 2012

the UGLY TRUTH about family formals {BRIDES & GROOMS-this is for you!}

I know what it's like. Your parents have been there for you. They've wiped your butt as a baby. Maintained composure during your crazy hormone filled teen years. They may have even sent you to college or helped you buy a car. They've hosted brunches for you. Taken you dress shopping. Thrown you bridal showers. They've maybe gone with you to tastings & venue walkthroughs. They've raised you for goodness sake. 

© Bellalu Photography 2011
And perhaps..they may even be helping you out financially to throw this shindig to begin with. 
And so you turn to your ______ (insert parent, grandparent or general family commander) and say:

My photographer is asking what family formals we would like taken after the ceremony.

And then it happens. 

Your ________ (fill in the blank) hands you the absolute longest list of group shots with every possible combination of every 2nd aunt, cousin, childhood babysitter, third cousin once removed, great uncle (who you haven't seen in 13 years) you've ever seen. It's like a free for all-every family shot ______(fill in the blank) has ever wanted can now be fulfilled in one go!! It's Uncle Bob's fantasy!!

NO ONE likes to sacrifice precious time and once in a lifetime shots they could be getting with their new hubby or wife so that there can be individual shots of each individual wing of your extended family on all sides which will never get printed anywhere and will just sit on your hardrive for the next 200 years.

Remember you only have 1 hour in which to shoot your entire family formal shot lists and all of your full bridal party shots AND all the pictures of you and your new wifey/husband-and the sad reality is-it's NOT a full hour. They call it a cocktail hour because that's how long the guests have to haul it to the open bar before dinner. As for you? No such luck.

It will take............
-10 minutes of gathering AFTER the ceremony and your poor photographer asking/pleading/pushing you and your highly distracted bridal party back to the front of the isle for family/bridal party photos.

-20-30 minutes (IF YOU'RE FAST AND ORGANIZED) of trying to gather/coordinate/send out search parties while yelling at the top of your lungs to get your even MORE distracted extended family back to the front of the isle-take off glasses, put down drinks, drop purses, look straight, open eyes and oh yea....SMILE!!!!!!!!! you get the picture.

-10 minutes to take your full bridal party and shoot them all together (and that doesn't include any number of shuffled shots and set ups that you might have given your photographer)

If you're counting that leaves a grand total of less than 5 minutes of shots with just your spouse because any photographer knows that 10 minutes before that grand entrance into dinner the wedding coordinator will be coming to get you and take you away and the LAST thing we as photographers EVER want to do is make you late for your own wedding dinner. 

It's one of the most difficult things as photographers we have to do-juggle precious time and inevitable unexpected circumstances and logistical flaws during a wedding timeline knowing that all our brides and grooms really want is to have an amazing time marrying their love and getting incredible pictures. Instead they are stressed, tired, hungry, irritated and their smile hurts before we've even started to most important shots of the day.

From the expert:

"Cocktail hour goes quicker than you think. Restroom breaks, freshening up, grabbing a bite to eat and most importantly taking a few moments to relish in the fact that you just vowed to spend the rest of your lives together and before you know it you're about a 3rd of the way through. Your list of family/formal/group photos should be a manageable list of ideally 10-15 groups of important shots."


Lindsey and Nathan think family formal shots are stupid. They serve no purpose. They are not important. You shouldn't do them.


Family is the foundation of our style of wedding photography. For goodness sake we named our business after our own children. And family formals are VERY important. 

BUT-in our experience time and time and time and timeandtimeandtimeandtime again.....the biggest regret for our couples is they didn't allow enough time for pictures with the two of them. 


*Family shots are important. Immediate family shots and any variation of this (siblings, parents, grandparents) are very easy to shoot given they all know exactly where to go and you've stressed the importance of speed and efficiency.

* Big huge massively large family shots are fabulous. Get everyone in there!!! You're rarely all in the same place at all time! We're all about it! BUT MAKE SURE EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO SHOULD BE IN THE SHOT KNOWS IT AND WHERE TO GO AND WHEN.

* BEFORE BREAKING SAID MASSIVELY FAMILY SHOT INTO SUB SHOTS-ask I really need this sub shot photo? Will it get printed and put on a wall anywhere? Would the fact that we took a big fabulous family photo with everyone be okay or must I absolutely have this variation? And if the answer is yes you absolutely need it-then put it on the list! We'll take care of it!! But if not-skip it. Given you have the big group shot you'll never miss it.

More tips from Amy Frugoli:

"1. Start with the biggest groups and whittle down until it's just the bride and groom & everyone else can enjoy cocktail hour when they're done.

2. Have a person assigned as a photo helper (one from the bride's side and one from the groom's side) that can gather people for the next photo group.

The reason this is all so important is because taking too much time (longer than about 75 minutes) means guests may start to get restless, the hors d'oeuvres may run out, guests may get intoxicated with extra bar time and most importantly the dinner may end up sitting too long and not be served at its best and freshest."


Any must have shots need to be taken care of post ceremony BEFORE THE RECEPTION. Receptions are insane. We completely let go of our brides and grooms during the reception. We're ever present but we are no longer directing you based on shots lists etc. It's very irrational to think we can successfully do so when it's loud, dark & there are people all OVER THE PLACE. It can and does happen but don't put your eggs in that basket. Do not say, "oh we'll just get a shot with my grandma during the reception." NOPE. You will jinx us and without fail Grandma will go MIA (or home to bed) faster than you can say "drunk people yelling Call Me Maybe on the dance floor".

Again, your photographers are your allies.  They're your PR crew and creative team. They should be there to manage expectations, limit stress and allow you to enjoy every possible second of a very intense day. Don't bog them down with posed shot lists you found online and pinterest boards (you hired them so you wouldn't have to tell them what to shoot!!!) & try your best not to let anyone force a schedule on you that you're not comfortable with. 

This is your WEDDING. There are no re-do's.

And while on the subject of wedding PR-if you think there is ANY POSSIBLE CHANCE any of your vendors (A.K.A. VIDEOGRAPHERS) would fall short of dressing in an appropriate & professional way given this is your WEDDING DAY please mention it to them during your consultation. You would think this would be obvious. You'd be surprised. 
(and hopefully not on your wedding day)

If I see one more videographer or wedding vendor in hipster jeans and converse shoes facebooking on their phone during their CLIENT'S WEDDING I'm going throw myself into a wedding cake.

Okay...I won't do that but I'm done with it. There are WAY TOO MANY fantastic & totally professional videographers in the bay area to waste your time with a "I'm so creative I can wear whatever I want at your wedding and get away with it" vendor. No excuse. No matter how awesome your video is. 

"How we dress at a wedding or event is a direct reflection of our business as well as our clients decision to hire us. We dress to match the style of our weddings. This has to be comfortable but professional- and obviously we'd never show up in jeans."

Perfectly said Luke. 

Videographer guys and gals-I heart you-but when someone is paying you thousands of dollars to document their wedding day-put an iron to your shirt and smile please :)

-Lindsey (a wedding photographer who treats your wedding like her own)